What is it with Japanese creators coming up with these weird titles. “Root A”? There’s practically nothing in the series that even warrants such a title. Why not call it “Tokyo Ghoul 2” instead? Anyways, I’m getting ahead of myself, I’m sure Sui Ishida has good intentions for the inclusion of a square root and a letter fused together.
Personally I didn’t think this was like the worse thing I’ve ever seen like many people make it out to be. But, then again I’ve seen a lot of bad anime – the medium is just littered with trash from top to bottom. Sure, the show completely threw away the idea of trying to incorporate theme exploration and worldbuilding from season one in favor of just mindless violence, but there were a couple of moments that I felt were well handled. The sound design and atmosphere in this anime for one are fantastic. The show really did a great job at making you feel uneasy at certain points with its visuals. Certain locations within the show really felt like they had this ominous presence throughout and the calm moments really did feel like downtime after tons of bloodshed. The OST, unfortunately, is nothing special as a lot of tracks feel similar to the first season. Yutaka Yamada is a master at his craft and it’s primarily for this reason why he was chosen for big projects like the Bleach live-action adaptation and the anime adaptation of Vinland Saga.
But this is where my praise ends. The show for one likes to focus more on character interactions and battles than the actual plot itself. This would be fine if say they set out to develop a character but most of the conversations throughout the show just boil down to a lot more mundane crap, rather than anything central to the overall plot. Take for instance, talking about studying for university exams or attending a book signing, etc. Not to mention the character development in this seems to be non-existent. Kaneki, in fact, devolves from a timid yet relatable protagonist into this depressed, stoic, moody teenager, kind of like Sasuke from Naruto. The rest of the cast fare no better; Amon is still your average vengeance seeker, Touka loses a bit of her characterization so she could become even more useless as a character… you get the point. A lot of characters in this are underutilized and completely shoved to the side. Two twins are introduced early one but then they are never brought up again for the rest of the show. The show even tries to add even more psychopaths to the mix, that an anime like Psycho Pass would be completely jealous of it. Let’s see, there’s a psychotic little kid who likes to harm people and is voiced by Rie Kugimiya, and there’s another ghoul character that looks like freaking Tarzan. Also, again, why is Touka just being so useless? She’s supposed to be one of the main characters and all she does is spend time sulking, with her side plot having absolutely no bearing on the main story. And then when the plot actually tries to progress all it involves in some senseless violence between Ghouls and CCG members.
Speaking of emotional moments, the worse aspect of TG root A is just how emotionally manipulative it is as a whole. The show tries to get you to care for certain characters that aren’t well developed enough or just do not deserve it as a whole. Certain characters suddenly pull a heroic sacrifice for some stupid reason and the music suddenly goes somber as if to say out loud “this guy is dying, are you crying yet?” All the emotional moments here feel way too forced and it works even less when these characters you’re supposed to be caring for are nothing but psychos. Also, there are also more flashbacks here than a generic Naruto episode and they happen at nearly every emotional moment. Speaking of Naruto, it does seem like the folks at Studio Pierrot are trying to turn this into a darker version of their ninja centric shonen adaptation. The interactions between Kaneki and Touka do mirror that of Sasuke and Sakura towards the latter half of that series, and the Aogiri Tree feel very similar to the Akatsuki. Not to mention that both series start off strong and then start to drag immensely towards the finishing line.
The fights now are more or less just like every battle shonen out there. Full of random asspulls and power-ups. And to make matters worse they aren’t even well animated. Yeah, Pierrot isn’t the right studio for Tokyo Ghoul it seems. They’ve got the soundtrack and the atmosphere on point, but the animation leaves much to be desired. It’s very lackluster with lots of cuts and corners being taken and characters moving about in a very stilted fashion. None of the fights here feel as remotely satisfying as in the first season and therefore, it’s just all forgettable.
When I said that I didn’t feel it was as bad as people made it out to be, I meant that I didn’t think it deserved a 1 or a 2 out of 10. So I’m just going to give it a high 3/10 instead. It is much inferior to the first season and chances are if Pierrot doesn’t learn from their mistakes then I’m not looking forwards to the third. Read the manga instead, or just watch Parasyte, it’s pretty similar except the execution’s loads better.
Personal rating: 3/10